Volume 9 Number 3 Article 1


The Road and the : Solid Geometry in Tolkien's Middle-earth

Mark M. Hennelly Jr. California State University, Sacramento

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Recommended Citation Hennelly, Mark M. Jr. (1982) "The Road and the Ring: Solid Geometry in Tolkien's Middle-earth," : A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: Vol. 9 : No. 3 , Article 1. Available at: https://dc.swosu.edu/mythlore/vol9/iss3/1

This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the at SWOSU Digital Commons. It has been accepted for inclusion in Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature by an authorized editor of SWOSU Digital Commons. An ADA compliant document is available upon request. For more information, please contact [email protected]. To join the Mythopoeic Society go to: http://www.mythsoc.org/join.htm Mythcon 51: A VIRTUAL “HALFLING” MYTHCON July 31 - August 1, 2021 (Saturday and Sunday) http://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon/mythcon-51.htm

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Abstract Considers the complex interplay of the Ring and the Road (“linear progress and circular stasis”), along with other related motifs of lines, circles, intersections and crossroads, spirals and spheres, hands and eyes in .

Additional Keywords Geometry in The Lord of the Rings; Ring (symbol) in The Lord of the Rings; Road (symbol) in The Lord of the Rings; Stewardship in The Lord of the Rings; Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings—Symbolism; Patrick Wynne

This article is available in Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: https://dc.swosu.edu/mythlore/vol9/iss3/1 MYTHLORE 33; Autumn 1982 page 3

The Road and the Ring Solid Geometry in Tolkien's Middle-earth Mark. M. Hennelly, Jr.

There on the pastoral downs without a track and Tolkien's reader out of thought and into "reverie" To guide me, or along the bare white roads or . Whether or not the subcreator of Middle- Lengthening in solitude their dreary line, earth patterned his figurative landscape after Stone­ While through those vestiges of ancient times henge or any other of the nine hundred stone circles I ranged, and by the solitude o'ercome, or "causewayed enclosures"2 that dot the British Isles I had a reverie and saw the past, is moot. But certainly the competing road and ring geometry which measures Middle-earth is as spell­ .... when twas my chance binding and profound a match as the mystery of To have before me on the downy plain shapes at Stonehenge. Once more, these landmarks con­ Lines, circles, mounts, a mystery of shapes stantly challenge the reader to solve the riddle of their "imitative forms" and to discover what they . . . (imitative forms "covertly express." By which the Druids covertly expressed Their knowledge of the heavens, and images forth Much of this riddle cannot be systematically The constellations), I was gently charmed, explained or decoded. Indeed Tolkien famously main­ Albeit with an antiquarian's dream, tained that he "cordially dislike[d] in all And saw the bearded teachers, with white wands its manifestations," though he curiously admitted to Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky. his tale's "varied applicability to the thought and --The Prelude. 1805 ed., experience of readers" (1,12).3 The imaginative ere- XII, 315-501 ator of the most popular fantasy work of this century,4 however, is also the incisive literary critic of The reader of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the . And the conflict between these two personae Rings (1954-1955) encounters an enchanting yet unwittingly reveals itself in double talk to his pub­ enigmatic landscape patterned much like that which lis h e r S ta n le y Unwin on th e s u b je c t of l i t e r a r y fascinated Wordsworth at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. meaning; "There is a 'moral', I suppose, in any tale Generally, those "vestiges of ancient times" recall worth telling. But that is not the same thing [as Tolkien's own "antiquarian's dream" of Middle-earth, allegory]. Even the struggle between darkness and and the Druidical "bearded teachers" resemble shamans light . . . is for me just a particular phase of his­ like and . More to the present point, tory, one example of its pattern, perhaps, but not however, is the "mystery of shapes," the lines and The Pattern; and the actors are individuals--they each, circles or roads and rings which tease both Wordsworth of course, contain universals, or they would not live page 4 MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982

at all, but they never represent them as such."5 This berry, can realize itself only through interaction with equivocation only further inspires the search for tex­ its complement: "they seemed to weave a single dance, tual relevance in Tolkien, for solving the riddle of neither hindering the other, in and out of the room, the hidden relationships between the pattern and The and round about the table" (I,183). Once agains, Tol­ Pattern. Consequently, it is important to realize kien's reading of Beowulf is relevant to the allegro that after the diffusive but relatively simple motif and penseroso movements in his own prose poem: "It is of light and dark imagery in the work, the most re­ essentially a balance, an opposition of ends and begin­ curring but profoundly complicated pattern is the anal­ nings. In its simplest terms it is a contrasted de­ ogous dialectic between the Road and the Ring, or lin­ scription of two moments in a great life, rising and ear progress and circular stasis. Not only does this setting; an elaboration of the ancient and intensely pattern coordinate and unify various structural, fig­ moving contrast between youth and age, first achieve­ urative, and thematic levels of the text, but under­ ment and f in a l d eath " ("BMC," p .8 1 ). As W.H. Auden standing its intricate variations also provides a puts it in his description of the pattern in reliable measure of The Lord of the Rings' poignant T o lk ie n , "Any image of t h i s ex p e rien c e must be d u a lis - and hard-earned artistic success. For the reader soon tic, a contest between two sides."13 Thus in the tril­ discovers that the author himself, Tolkien the geome­ ogy, the reader repeatedly witnesses "two powers that trician, is the true model for his who scrupu­ are opposed one to another; and ever they strive. . ." lously "pay attention to every detail" (II,246). In (I,456). Sometimes these "competing songs" (I,145) are fact, the recently published Unifinished Tales tells external, like the "friends" and "foes" Elrond counsels us geometrically what we might have already guessed Frodo about (I,360); sometimes, on the other hand, they symbolically of the descendents of "The People of the are "warring duties" (III,159), internal conflicts like Stars," that their "land of Numenor resembled in out­ Sam's finding his love for Rosie pulling against his line a five-pointed star, or pentangle" (UT,p.l65, see love for his master: "I am that torn in two." Frodo's numbered page facing p.l for Tolkien's illustration). response is crucial for understanding Tolkien's dialec­ tical imagination: "But you will be healed. You were Tolkien was an inveterate doodler. As his son meant to be solid and whole, and you will be" (III,379). Christopher recalls, "while doing newspaper crossword That is, although it often seems as if one side is puzzles," his father "used to draw patterns such as right and one wrong, neither is really that self-exclu­ those" arabesque and mandala figures, textiles, and sive. Each is a necessary complement to the other; and heraldic devices reproduced in his collected illustra­ someone falls to evil, like and , only if tions? And the twin pillars of Tolkien's fantastic he selfishly seeks to destroy the dialectic itself; imagination are his attention to realistic detail and "for," as Elrond advises, "nothing is evil in the his insistence on such dialectical, often geometric beginning" (I,351). In fact, the genesis of the dia­ patterns, like those created by the Road and Ring, lectic, Iluvatar's providential Symphony in The Silma- underlying this detail. Moreover, the reader's con­ rillion, naturally incorporates (not conquers) the fidence and delight in Tolkien's verisimilitude assures satanic "discord of Melkor": his acceptance of and belief in the dialectical reality of what Tolkien terms the Secondary World of Faerie. And it seemed at last that there were two Thus, Tolkien rejects Coleridge's Romantic formula musics progressing at one time before the seat calling for the willing suspension of disbelief because of Iluvatar, and they were utterly at variance. "the moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but magic, or rather art, has failed." If, on the other slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, hand, readers naturally accept the reality of the from which its beauty chiefly came. The other Secondary World "for itself, they would not heve to had now achieved a unity of its own; but it suspend disbelief: they would believe," since "crea­ was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; tive Fantasy is founded upon the hard recognition that and it had little harmony, but rather a clam­ things are so in the world as it appears under the sun; orous unison as of many trumpets braying upon on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it" a few notes. And it essayed to drown the other ("FS," pp.37,38,55).7 One reason for Tolkien's realism music by the violence of its voice, but it is that he always "had the sense of recording what was seemed that its most triumphant notes were already 'there', somewhere: not of 'inventing.'"8 At taken by the other and woven into its own any rate, his tale deals literally with innumerable solemn pattern (S, p.5). roads and rings, besides "the wonder of the things [in general], such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree For Tolkien, Elves personify this synthesis of and grass; house and fire; bread and wine" ("FS," p.59). the dialectical pattern and thus provide the ideal res­ As Douglass Parker w rites, "fantasy must be buttressed, olution of Road and Ring traits. As he-once wrote, however skewly, on reality",9 and one of Tolkien's "they are made by in his own image and likeness; other champions, the fantasist Ursula K. Le Guin, is but freed from those lim itations which he feels most more specifically relevant: "As Pythagoras knew, the to press upon him. They are immortal, and their will god [of inspiration] may speak in the forms of geometry is directly effective for the achievement of imagina­ as well as in the shapes of dreams."10 In the Beowulf tion and desire."14 And fantasy itself, "commanding poet, Tolkien himself sim ilarly discovers that mimetic Secondary Belief," is "a kind of elvish craft" ("FS," solid geometry can equally be fantastic or mythic geom­ p.49). Thus, Frodo learns that the counself of Elves etry: "The significance of a myth is not easily to be "will say both no and yes" (I,123) at the same time, pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its and Sam finds them "so old and young, and so gay and best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather sad" (I,127). This Elvish paradox is especially evi­ than makes explicit what his theme portends; who pre­ dent in , as Sam's poetic "nonsense" describes sents it incarnate in the world of history and geog­ her: "Hard as di'monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as raphy" ("BMC," p .6 3 ) .11 sunlight, cold as frost in the stars" (II,365). And rightly captures her dialectical nature with As the Road-Ring pattern reveals, Tolkien's imag­ the same oxymoron Tolkien uses for Faerie itself, ination also works dialectically.12 The Lord of the "perilously fair" (II,366) . Indeed, such elvish Rings strives toward the rhythmic modulation of polar Children of the Twilight enjoy the best of both worlds: extremes, each of which, like and Gold- "They do not fear the Ringwraiths," explains Gandalf, MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 page 5

"for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at of suggests, the road and the ring often once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the combine naturally in the text: "above him he saw plain­ Unseen they have great power" (I,294). Consequently, ly a path or road. It climbed like a rising girdle epitomizes a harmonic Road-Ring rhythm because from the west and wound snakelike about the Mountain, his internal and external life, his memory and motion, until before it went round out of view it reached the are both synchronous and synonymous: "resting his mind foot of the cone upon its eastern side" (III,269). In in the strange paths of elvish dreams, even as he a meaningful sense, this kind of patterned geometry, or walked open-eyed in the light of this world" (II,37). "earth measurement," is proleptic; it realistically cues and figuratively clues significant action in the This brings us to the task of generally defining . Thus, the Road and the Ring are the ultimate Road and Ring tendencies before plotting the geometry emblems of one's destiny in Middle-earth as their pat­ of their dialectical configurations. Indeed Tolkien tern "held on its own sure course and guided them underscores their importance by repeatedly capitalizing [Frodo, Sam, and ] by the sw iftest way" (II,326). the R in both words, suggesting that there is one arche- But, as we will see, their dialectic can also reveal typaT Road and Ring reflected in numerous secondary rhythms of free w ill's conquest of fate. figures, just as there is one universal Pattern re­ flected in various individual patterns. In his poem Put most simply, the Road and the Ring are mea­ on "Mythopoesis" dedicated to C.S. Lewis, Tolkien con­ sures of biorhythms which reflect larger cosmic rhythms: verts such Platonism to Christianity by blessing: the Road provokes action, the Ring provides contem­ plation. The Road is an aggressive offense; the Ring Man, S u b -c re a to r, th e r e f r a c te d L ight is a protective defense, a posture of rest and recovery. through whom is splintered from a single White The Road generally provides opportunities for pity, the to many hues, and endlessly combined Ring for power and pride. Again, these tendencies in liv in g shapes th a t move from mind to mind should counterbalance one another: "a generous deed ("FS," p.54). should not be checked by cold counsel" (III,35); and, "those who wish to continue the Quest must harden their And th e " liv in g shapes" o f th e and th e Road hearts" (I,475). The Road focuses its attention on the that Goes Ever On are duplicated on almost every page present, the Ring on understanding and remembering the of the trilogy and provide the most profound example lessons of the past and planning for the future. The of Tolkien's dialectical imagination. In fact, the Road connotes profane, mutable experience, the Ring Ring's journey on the Road to the Crack of Doom, eternally sacred ritual. Tolkien nicely adumbrates whether stage center or behind the scenes, is certainly many of these values in describing the rhythms of the the major interest in The Lord of the Rings: "with splintered Fellowship's journey to Helm's Deep: every step towards the gates of Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome" Night closed about them. At last they (II,300). And this geometric struggle progressively halted to make their camp. They had ridden intensifies at the crucial junctures when Frodo's lin­ for some five hours and were far out upon the ear finger intersects the Ring's circle: "a finger still western plain, yet more than half their journey thrust within its circle" (III,275). lay still before them. In a great circle, under the starry sky and the waxing moon, they now As suggested, the variety of roads (plus its syn­ made their bivouac. They lit no fires, for they onyms, path' or way) and rings (and its analogues, were uncertain of events; but they set a ring circle or hole) is staggering, but the epithets associ­ of mounted guards about them, and scouts rode ated with these traditional literary figures determine out far ahead, passing like shadows in the fold their significance so naturally and unobtrusively as of the land. The slow night passed without to go easily unnoticed. Thus the central "long grey tid in g s or alarm . At dawn th e horns sounded road" (III,384) can bend into an "open road" (III,56), and within an hour they took the road again. and "ancient path" (II,423-24), or a "beaten path" ( I I ,1 6 6 ). (II,241), besides turning into a "doubtful way" (III, 260) or "cloven way" (II,339), or forming a crossroads or "way-meeting" (III,236). In context, each type of Here the time for rest from the ordeals of the road records subtle thematic shifts in sifnificance. road and, presumably, contemplation of future "events" It can be benevolent as "the path of wisdom" (I,339), is signaled by the "ring" and "great circle" as much "right road" (III,221), or "safe road" (I,526). But as it is by the accompanying nightfall. Or better, it may also appear ominously as a "misleading path" nightfall is the cue for abandoning diurnal progress (I,161) or "dangerous road" (II,423), or malevolently on the linear road and embracing static rest in a sentient as an "evil road" (II,389), "deadly road" circular posture. As Pippin once suggests, "the road (III,67), "path of despair" (I,352), or "hard cruel goes on forever . . . but I can't without a rest" (I, road" (III,261). The ring pattern does not seem quite 109). Often in the trilogy such circularity is evi­ so variable, but its significance is actually more com­ dent in paired figures of tunnels and towers, since plicated. There is, of course, the One "Ring of Doom" like the complementary hemispheres of The Mountain (III,286) which finds linked analogies in a hostile Caradhras and the caves of , both concave and "ring of foes" (III,115) and "gold rings" in the ears convex structures circumscribe and immobilize their of the "wicked Men" (II,321) of Mordor, but also in the denizens. At any rate, each constellation of geometric heroic "ring of " (III,358) which finally de­ values has its season. When combined, their pattern fends . The outside is most natural, as suggested here by the "starry sky" Moria sends out "great rings" (I,395) of threatening and "waxing moon," which not only imply darkness com­ ripples, and foreboding dark shadows often "encircle" plementing light and change resolved with permanence, the Fellowship (I,262); but there are also the safe­ but also a kind of mythic alignment with both the Star- guarding circular walls of Minas Tirith, a frequent Queen, Elbereth Gilthoniel, and the great luminous tree "great ring of trees" (III,196) wherein to rest from Telperion, darkened by Melkor but partially rekindled road weariness, and finally the bittersweet "circles in the moon. Thus, the union of Road and Ring antici­ of the world" (III,428), whose mortal boundaries pates Frodo's promise of the union of Light and Dark must be accepted. Lastly, as Sam's typical description after the apocalyptic crowning of the King: "Now not page 6 MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982

rolling" (III,340), that is, uprooted and unreflective, like the brawny warrior who desires the Ring only for its military might. Tolkien whimsically sat­ irizes this kind of deracinated character in his musi­ cal poem "" as one who "must depart again and start again his/gondola, for ever still a messenger, a passenger, a/tarrier, a roving as a feather does,/a weather driven mariner."16

In the plot structure of The Lord of the Rings, more than anywhere else, the general growth potential measured by Tolkien's solid geometry is most clear.17 In fact, the "Quest" truly begins with Bilbo's famous Road Song (I,110), or better, recurring Hymn, which consecrates the correspondences between the Way, the Truth and the Light. Tolkien's gospel is that each of us must not hibernate eternally in our dark holes to be plagued and eventually damned by the tunnel vi­ sion of such an ostrich posture. Rather, we must take up our burden and "must follow" our own authentic des­ tiny, the winding Road of life itself. As Mircea Eliade puts it, "Those who have chosen the Quest, the road that leads to the Center, must abandon any kind of family and social situation, any 'nest,' and devote themselves wholly to 'walking' toward the supreme truth."1 8 with Frodo the Walker, then, one must hum­ bly whisper, "I will take the Ring . . . though I do not know the way" (II,354). In etymological terms, one must ad + v e n io , move out toward som ething new, or make an adventure. Even for Sam's pony B ill, once mistreated by Bill Ferny at , "the journey in the "The hand and eye of Legolas" wild . . . seem[ed] so much better than its former life" (I,267). In The , learned day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beau­ well Gandalf's lesson that "there is always more about tiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!" (III, you than anyone expects" (H, p.258) if you will only 310). Moreover, the natural progress of the heavenly test and actualize this inner treasure by making a spheres across the firmament created a Pattern repeated journey to new experiences; in 's words, if you in the pattern of this bivouac, as it is in the Ring's "will adventure it. No other road will serve" (III,66). progress on the Road. Indeed, the Riders of In the unfinished tale of "Aldarion and Erendis," the naturally attack ores in the battle formation of "a early unfallen Númenóreans even solemnified adventures running circle" (II,41). (It should also be noted here and "formed the Guild of Venturers, that afterwards that, miming the macrocosmic Pattern, Tolkien's archi­ was renowned" (UT,p.l76). And after Bilbo learns on tecture and cityscapes in the mesocosm of Middle-earth, "the path of wisdom" that nothing ventured is indeed especially at a founding city like Minas Tirith, often nothing gained, he practices no self-centered treasure adopt the ground plan of the quadrati circuli, or hoarding and "no tunnel-making" (I ,46), though his in­ squared circle, which geometrically combines roads sular and m aterialistic birthday guests still deride and rings much like larger versions of his microcosmic "the absurd adventures of his mysterious journey" (I, heraldic devices.15 ) Finally, "at dawn," the Fellow­ 53).19 Consequently, it is poetic justice that many ship must break the circle and naturally take "to the of them are eventually imprisoned in the "old storage- road again." tunnels" or "Lockholes" by Sharkey-Saruman, who him­ self doesn't "go outside the grounds" (III,356), Unnaturally, however, isolated ring characters "doesn't hold with folk moving about" (III,347), and lacking true fellowship, like the complacent hobbits erects barriers reading "NO ROAD" (III,346). The in their holes or the proud, power-mad Oenethor in his newly crowned Aragorn, that nominal road strider, how­ tower, fail to break their circle, take to the road, ever, "will soon put the roads in order" (III,330) and and practice its values. They remain stagnant and do pave the way for new adventuring. Thus at the outset, not grow or change. In the extreme, such a polarized Sam feels "his old life lay behind in the mists, dark stasis is especially personified both in the "pride and adventure lay in front" (I,142); and finally at the rooted wisdom" of the dark trees of the who end of the road, Butterbur compliments the once lowly are "filled with a hatred of things that go free upon hobbits: "you've come back changed from your travels the earth" (I,180-81) and also in that deep-rooted and you look now like folks as can deal with troubles mountain Caradhras the Cruel, who has "little love for out of hand." And Gandalf seconds the motion: "You those that go on two legs" (I,378). Even the unpredict­ are grown up now. Grown indeed very h ig h ; among th e able huorns that Fangorn marshalls bear a qualified great you are." But significantly, Gandalf also is animosity toward road characters, especially ores, wise enough to know it is now time to rest his own ex­ "that go on two legs" (II,193). And the Evil Eye, who emplary "running circle" at Tom Bombadil's circum­ is prefigured in the equally circular Mouth of Sauron, scribed kingdom: "He is a moss-gatherer, and I have anachronistically desires to arrest historical progress been a sto n e doomed to r o llin g . But my r o llin g days toward the Fourth Age and regress to a benighted cycle are ending" (III,339-40). like the Dark Second Age. No wonder that Orthanc, the "ringed" tower of ratiocinative Saruman, means both More s p e c if ic a ll y , a l i t e r a r y v e c to r a n a ly s is of "Mount Fang" and "Cunning Mind" in different tongues the trilogy's structure must plot the episodic and (II,204). Less harmfully, but still unnaturally, a stadial development of the road as it wends its coursing p o la riz e d road c h a ra c te r becomes a "sto n e doomed to and often split path relentlessly eastward and then MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 page 7 back westward in.recurring geometric patterns more than It is during the patterned stages of the Quest 1800 miles long.20 David M. Miller generally recog­ that this fusion progressively develops as the road nizes this traditional metaphor when he writes, "the intersects episodically with a series of ringed, occult setting of the three volumes is the road, a setting kingdoms or tempting holes often locked by gates. These lending itself especially well to the narrative struc­ circular barriers, like the mound of the Barrow Wights ture of the picaresque novel. Down this road a cen­ or the Ring of , represent testing powers of tral character moves through adventure after adventure, increasing strength whose virtues must be overcome and perhaps learning and maturing as he goes, but encoun­ assimilated so that the Walkers, and particularly tering each experience essentially afresh."21 The Frodo, can grow through stages of developing prowess. largest of these patterns joins road and ring as the Thus, successful road passage through each successive path east finally circles back west in a "there and ring ordeal unlocks the repressed dark power and domes­ back again" curve completed by Sam's final words, "Well, ticates it by channeling it outward in the form of I'm back" (III,385).22 The point here is that the Nine greater pity or "stern pity." For example, passive Walkers cannot learn or earn the illuminating wisdom Frodo must be saved from drowning by Sam near the of the West unless they first surrender their innocence "lock[ed] . . . door" (I,165) of , an and assimilate the dark experience of the East. As the image of natural force; he is more aggressive and calls Gelmir tells the human Tuor in , for help inside the tunnel of the preternatural Barrow "Through darkness one may come to the light" if one's Wights; he stabs the supernatural Nazgûl near "the feet are "guided on the right road" (UT,p.21). And ruined circle" (I,254) of Weathertop; and scrambling Bilbo humorously employs the same geometric figure to from the captivating cosmic malevolence of The Eye at suggest that his earlier itinerary from childhood to "the wide flat circle" of "the Hill of the Eye" when maturity in was a straighter, easier path "the Ring was upon him" (I,517-18), Frodo finally as­ than Frodo's present course from maturity to old age serts himself and saves Sam from drowning. Often, as and beyond: "I evidently came back by much too straight at Lorien and Rohan, there is some appropriate ritual a road from my t r i p . I th in k Gandalf m ight have shown of gate-passing at these sacred, circular way stops; me round a bit" (III,328). But then again at Loth- and as Faramir indicates at the hidden Window of the 16rien Galadriel muses that there is "a road that has Sunset, profane time is temporarily abandoned and "no no returning" (I,485), and thus Frodo discovers that stranger . . . shall see the path we now go on with " th e re is no re a l going back. Though I may come to th e open eyes" (II,356). No wonder, then, that there is Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be a motif of "daring the Door" (III,85) in the books the same" (III,331). That is, one cannot backtrack and that Saruman severely punishes the self-1iberating or retrace one's steps home again--one's innocence (and crime of "Gate-breaking" (III,343). perhaps even one's life) is always sacrificed during the journey. Some things are utterly lost, while others Tolkien's attitude toward "the last stage" or are eternally gained by passing through the stages of completion of the road quest, however, is more compli­ the Quest. As Tolkien proclaims in "On Fairy-Stories": cated and crucial. After the Numenorean culture fell to the satanic Sauron in the Second Age, "encircling The process of growing older is not necessarily seas" (S, p.354) surrounded the fallen universe now allied to growing wickeder, though the two do "made round"; and for mortals (not Elves) the "Straight often happen together. Children are meant to Road" out of Middle-earth to , the paradisal grow up, and not to become Peter Pans. Not home of the angelic Valar, prohibitively turned into a to lose innocence and wonder, but to proceed "bent road" (S,pp.348-49). S till, however, the dying on the appointed journey: that journey upon Aragorn promises his elf-turned-human queen, : which it is certainly not better to travel hope­ "let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of fully than to arrive, though we must travel old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we hopefully if we are to arrive. But it is one must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound of the lessons of fairy stories . . . that on for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them callow, lumpish, and selfish youth peril, is more than memory" ( I I I ,4 2 8 ). A rag o rn 's unfounded sorrow, and the shadow of death can bestow but heroic hope is in line with Tolkien's own faith dignity, and even sometimes wisdom (pp.44-45). th a t th e Road does go "ever o n ," th a t both l i f e and death are inexhaustible experiences, and that "the Often Tolkien conveniently labels the larger Consolation of the Happy Ending," which is really a New road and ring patterns with phrases like "the next Beginning beyond the "circles of the world," is the stage of their journey" (II,276), "the last desperate ultimate blessing of Fantasy. His gospel of the "Eu- stage of his journey" (III,241), or "the last stage of catastrophe," or "sudden joyous 'turn,'" boldly "denies the Quest" (I ,526). Sometimes those cues even suggest (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal a secular Way or Stations of the Cross, the critical final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a experiences Christ suffered on the road to His Cruci­ fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the fixion at Calvary, which Tolkien's Catholic liturgy world, poignant as grief." This apocalyptic, "fugitive" observes with a formalized penitential ritual. More c i r c le may be earned only a f te r much "sorrow and f a i l ­ appropriately, I think, the growth patterns shared ure" on the road, which is "necessary to the joy of in different degrees by all the members of the Fellow deliverance" ("FS,"p.68)24 Tolkien's point here is as ship reflect the related stages of the wasteland much a paradox as squaring the circle, for there is quest for purification and wholeness, which is com­ no terminal stage of life's "endless pilgrimage" (II, pleted by the final reunification of grail and lance 193); but, on the other hand, "immortality" is not "end­ and the discovery of a "Healing King" like Aragorn "the less serial living" ("FS,"p.68) either. Rest from the Renewer" (III,169), who will "rebuild and renew and road is important in life, yet as the short tale "Leaf remove all the scars of war and the memory of the dark­ By Niggle" promises, there is always a new span of road ness" (III,306).23 The linear lance and circular cup in eternity a "further stage" beyond the encircling are repeated in Aragorn's inherited "token[s] of our Mountains.25 Before he finally dozes off, Bilbo's kinship," the "ring of Barahir" and "shards of Narsil" la s t Road Song a t R ivendell ch an ts t h i s paradox: (III,421), the sword to be reforged, and in Frodo's thematic fusion of road pity and ring power, "stern and on pity" (II,285). Out from the door where it began, page 8 MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982

Now f a r ahead th e Road has gone, will lead them, till they come to its end" (II,121). Let others follow it who can! S till, Gildor informs Frodo that the time of "choice Let them a journey new b eg in , is yours: to go or wait," and he refuses to believe But I at last with weary feet "the road will prove too hard for your courage" (I, Will turn towards the lighted inn, 123), thereby implying the value of individual free My evening-rest and sleep to meet (III,329). effort. Faramir similarly upholds choice, feeling that the "wise man trusts not to chance-meeting on the The repeated pattern of the crossroads or "way- road in this land" (II, 337). While the Road does of­ meet" further complicates Tolkien's solid geometry. ten enjoin self-defining choices, the Walkers use their This motif of the "choice of roads" (II,238) works respite on the River Anduin, here a winding parody toward a thematic intersection of freedom and fate of road values, to postpone the "day of choice" of that allows one to accept humbly the common destiny the true "straight road of the Quest" and so to "float of all life forms while still freely "forcing a path" down the broad tide" of the river-road (1,475-76). (I,381), or marching to one's own unique drumbeat. Perhaps, however, Tom Bombadil's baffling explanation Sometimes the choice is between vertical paths, whether, of rescuing the hobbits near the winding Withywindle for example, to ascend Caradhras or descend into Moria. best articulates the dialectical paradox of coinciding Tolkien's usual counsel is that true humility demands freedom and fate: "all paths lead that way," but falling before one can rise. As Bilbo reveals to the "chance brought me then, if chance you call it. It dwarves a t Lonely M ountain, "th e only way o ut is down" was no plan of mine, though I was waiting for you" (I, (H,p.224). In fact, the descent into the dark bowels 175). Less profoundly but perhaps more lucidly, we of Moria is an enlightening exploration of both hell might conclude that Tolkien holds for a healthy measure and the unconscious, and the journey through its laby­ of both freedom and fate, grace and good works, in any rinths and pits provides a microcosm of Tolkien's over­ human act; but true to his Catholic heritage, good works all road and ring geometry. Gandalf self-sacrificially seem finally more significant and self-defining in his "chose the right way" through the mazes of Khazad-dûm, ethical geometry of roads and rings. In fact, Frodo's yet "it is a long way down to the Gates that open on pity on the road for Gollum saves the creature for his the world" (I,410-11). The trajectory of his own fall unwitting act of redemption and thus saves Frodo him­ with the into the fiery pit and his consequent self from the sin of his final obsession with the Ring. ascension up the appropriate "unbroken spiral" of the As Elrond describes the "Quest of Mount Doom," all the Endless Stair (II,134) is one crucial example of Tol­ Walkers, except the Ringbearer, go forth as "free com­ kien's usual ballistics. His climactic image, however, panions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or is that of the "rising, and falling" (III,275) action come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance at the Crack of Doom where the Road ends with an al­ allows. The further you go, the less easy it will be most primal combat over the Ring. The complex forces to withdraw, yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go determining whether or not Frodo will freely act out further than you w ill. For you do not yet know the his fate reveal themselves in his shifting vertical strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what postures. He falls at the foot of Orodruin; but Sam, each may meet upon the road" (I ,367).26 often seeming to personify his master's "will power," lifts and carries Frodo up "the climbing road" (III, 271). Gollum knocks him down again, but he rises and Besides providing the pattern for the dialectic races through the "gaping mouth" of a "long cave or between freedom and fate, the Road and the Ring also tunnel that bored into the Mountain's smoking cone" reflect the related importance of both fellowship and (III,273-74). Frodo then rises and falls a number of isolation in one's life. Generally speaking, the Road times on the edge of the precipice until his alter ego carries one to encounters with fellow creatures: "it falls eternally to perdition with the Ring, thereby chanced that several companies came together at the saving Middle Earth. Frodo then completely surrenders road-meeting" (III,256); while the Ring imposes bar­ h is w ill power to Sam, who guides him back down th e riers of lonely isolation. Tolkien sees an individual "winding road" (III,281) until they both swoon to the life, then, as serial alternations between the demands ground. Whereupon the Gwaihir, messenger of of socialization and isolation, both of which are inti­ Manwë, the master of Frodo's destiny, "circled in the mately related and can equally enjoin moments of hero­ air" (III,282) in great spirals and lifts the hobbits, ism. For example, in an isolating instant of self- only to set them down again in safety below. sacrificial choice, Pippin leaves his ore captors on the road to drop his precious elven broach in a "wide shallow depression" (II,65) as a sign to his trailing More frequently, Tolkien coordinates such ethical companions. Aragorn later commends this unselfish geometry with the horizontal crossroads which score and liberating act of fellowship: "One who cannot cast Middle-earth and are usually accompanied by a circular away a treasure at need is in fetters" (II,215). Gan­ retreat that provides an opportunity for deliberation dalf also advises Frodo on the value of fellowship: "I before choosing the correct path. For example, when think after all you may need my company on the Road" the alliance frontally attacks Mordor to divert Sauron's (I,102); and he later counsels the isolated Theoden, attention from the Ringbearer, "the horsemen pressed on who wears "a thin golden circlet set upon his brow," and ere evening they came to the Cross Roads and the that "all friends should gather together, lest each great ring of trees" (III,196). Although the road singly be destroyed" (II,148-49). This alludes to the generally offers the freedom of traditional adventure, comparable divide-and-conquer treachery of both Saruman while the ring provides the encircling net of destiny, entrenched within the Ring of Isengard and Sauron individual circumstances are often more complicated perpetually isolated in his Dark Tower. 'Subtly, Tol­ than this simple paradigm. For instance, at the Paths kien relies on the road figure to unite the fortunes of the Dead, Aragorn argues: "We must ride our own of the divided Fellowship when, at the end of III, road." But Thgoden replies that "It is your doom, may­ Gandalf urges Shadowfax on the road to Minas Tirith be, to tread strange paths that others dare not" (III, with the cry of "Hope is in speed!" (II,262); while 60-61), thus seeing the road as one's fated but unique at the beginning of Book IV, a few pages later, alien­ course. Sometimes a general "course [is] chosen" (I, ated Frodo laments taking "the wrong way" with the des­ 162), and "one must tread the path that need chooses" perate and echoing cri de coeur of "What hope we had (I,387), though "few can foresee whither their road was in speed" (II,266). MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 page 9

It is more difficult to understand the value of isolation than the value of fellowship in The Lord of the Rings, since so many of Tolkien's ring tropes are those of self-insulating despair. In fact, as paro­ dies of Manwe's eagles, the Ring-Wraiths persistently "circle like vultures," and their most desperate rem­ edy is to have the "roads . . . cut" and the ores at beseiged Minis Tirith catapult what looks like "small round shot," but actually is the heads of fal­ len comrades "branded with the foul token of the Lid­ less Eye" (III,116-17). It is little wonder, then, that their lord is dubbed "the Captain of Despair" (III,112), and such paralyzing horrors outside the gates portend 's own isolating despair within the surrounded, circled city. Moreover, Gollum’s road quest, like that of the Nine riders, is a mockery of true adventure, since his goal is to possess, not give up; he is self-centered, not self-sacrificial. Such innate circularity is prefigured in his early, isolated retreat with the Ring under the roots of convex moun­ tains: "he tunnelled into green mounds; and he ceased to look up at the hill-tops, or the leaves on trees, or the flowers opening in the air: his head and eyes were downward" as "he wormed h is way lik e a maggot in to the heart of the hills" (I,84-84). Faramir later re­ viles the symptoms of such a repressive retreat from the Road: "There are locked doors and closed windows in your mind, and dark rooms behind them: (II,379). S till, Frodo's coinciding isolation within the Ring's "wheel of fire" (III,272) ultimately purifies him and thereby brings final enlightenment. This is what in The Cross-roads from the Beowulf essay Tolkien celebrates as "a potent but terrible solution in naked will and courage," since the isolating "wages of heroism is death" ("BCM,"p.77). In his finest moment, even Gollum abandons his Ring In his "radio play," The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth obsession and, seeing that upon the sleeping Frodo's Beorhthelm's Son, Tolkien's existential geometry is "white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands .... more explicitly Christian, for the isolating burden slowly put[s] out a trembling hand, very cautiously he of the Ring becomes there "the cross [that] is heavy," which in turn becomes "the body's weighty!/Dead men touched Frodo's knee--but almost the touch was a caress" (II,411). When motivated by vision and insight, hands drag e a r t h w a r d . "27That is, the road journey of the finally hold a spiritual and aesthetic significance pall bearers is an image of one's own funeral proces­ for Tolkien, what he usually refers to as their power sion through life, naked of trappings but weighed down of "making." Thus the artisan Sador "finger[s]" his by corruptible clay, toward the isolated still point of grave and beyond. carved chairs and tells Túrin that "the joy in the making is their only true end" (UT,p.72). And in "Myth- When blesses "the hand and eye of Legolas" opoesis," Tolkien explains his aesthetic of subcreation ( I ,502) a f te r th e e l f 's arrow shoots down a NazgQl in the last line: "we make still by the law in which steed, he reminds the reader that Tolkien's dialectic we're made" ("FS,"p.54). He further suggests that extends to the physical geometry of his creatures and fantasy itself "seek[s] shared enrichment, partners in to the significance of hand-eye coordination. The making" from its audience. That is, "we make in our linear arm, hand, and fingers, especially when wield­ measure and in our derivative mode, because we are ing a sword, primarily practice road values, 28 while made: and not only made, but made in the image and the circular eye participates in ring themes. Often likeness of a Maker" ("FS," pp.53,55). But again, it Tolkien starkly integrates such imagery as, for example, is the Elves who incarnately resolve this subpattern of when the loss of Sauron's ring finger leads ineluctably the road-ring dialectic. As one of their leaders in to his disembodied personification as the Lidless Eye, Lórien describes elven handicrafts, "we put the thought which extreme fragmentation is itself "almost like a of all that we love into all that we make" (I,479). finger" (I,519). Thus as Beren's severed hand clutches a Silmaril to win "the hand" of Luthien (S,224,226), When motivated by pity, the eye can provide so too anyone can sacrifice a hand out of pity or love; insight and prophetic vision as suggested by Galadriel's but like Frodo even, if one sins with his hand, or ring circular Well and the globular palantíri or seeing- finger, it can be cut off. Similarly, as Galadriel stones. When driven by pride and power, on the other suggests of the eye's visionary power, "seeing is both hand, it becomes "the Eye turned inward" (III,245), a good and perilous" (I,470). brooding, self-centered circle that is often associated with a devouring mouth. Then, it is an object of Consequently, both hands and eyes articulate pro­ "mockery," like the carved handle of ore weapons, vocative body language in the trilogy, and if the dia­ rather than of true making: "it had been shaped like lectic between them is reciprocating, the result can a hideous head with squinting eyes and a leering mouth" be Legolas's model of self-actualization. At their (II,117). Often such figurative geometry is writ large worst, hands grasp rapaciously to possess and hoard; upon the landscape and architecture, as, for example, at their best, they demonstrate affection like that at "the Teeth of Mordor," whose two towers built in continuously practiced by Sam and Frodo: "Frodo said "pride and power" and dotted with "dark window-holes," nothing but took Sam's hand and pressed it" (III,249); which are "full of sleepless eyes" (II,308). These and "Sam went to him and kissed his hand" (III, 264). eyes reappear in the series of voyeuristic "Watchers" page 10 MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 that guard occult, circumscribed kingdoms like Moria, present" (II,83). Though he refuses to become "hasty," Mordor, and especially that "mouth of despair," Torech the eventually "rouses" himself from "treeish" slum­ Ungol (II,421), the home of the "bloated bag" ber and then, in turn, arouses his dormant comrades. (II,425) with her "two great clusters of many-windowed Unlike Tom, tells Merry and Pippin that "Our eyes" (II,419). When Wormtongue and the Lidless Eye roads go together" (II,97), and "I can set you down himself indulge the greedy appetite of such blood- outside my country at any point you choose" (II,87). swollen vampires, they reveal it is ultimately self- His "ent-strides" (II,104) travel down the path unwea- devouring. Like the "ring" of "broken bones and skulls" rily until the predestined "ring" as "round as a bowl" (II,328) Sam finds, cannibal Sauron is "becoming a mere (II,105-06) is reached, and it is appropriately time spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but for counsel. Here it is decided to march to Orthanc cannot again grow or take shape" (III,190). But then "though," as the Ent chant, or "ringing shout" (II,111), again the reader must remember that the mouth, like the goes, "Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of eye, can be fair as well as perilous. As Sam, Tolkien's stone" (II,112). Treebeard believes that this "last spokeshobbit for natural creature comforts, constantly march of the Ents" on the road is a worthy self-sacri­ preaches to Frodo, a hearty appetite can save him from fice because "we may help the other peoples before we disembodiment in the wraith world. Thus "taters" are pass away" (II,114). Yet Fangorn can feel pity for his "Gaffer's delight, and rare good ballast for an the captured Saruman and Wormtongue and free them on empty belly" (II,332), for "where there's th e r o a d ; as he t e l l s G andalf, "You should know th a t life there's hope, as my Gaffer used to say; ana need above all I hate the caging of live things, and I will of vittles .... You have a b i t e , Mr. Frodo, and then not keep even such creatures as these caged beyond a bit of sleep" (II,392). great need" (III,319). He finally admits that "I must be getting hasty--growing backwards towards youth, per­ Understanding the dialectical nuances between the haps" (III,244). This is not regression like Tom's, Road and the Ring and their attendant figures can also however, but real rejuvenation, the kind that makes him help the reader to evaluate properly Tolkien's charac­ and the other Ents truly Elven, that is, perfect incar­ ters, who often reveal themselves in their responses nations of a Road-Ring resolution: "we train and we to this geometry. Tom Bombadil and Treebeard are par­ teach, we walk and we weed" (II,89). ticularly fine representative examples here because they are two of the most enigmatic denizens of Middle- Such biorhythms introduce Tolkien's major theme, earth and often even seem gratuitous. Both call them­ that of stewardship which is also significantly defined selves "the Eldest," and thus both contribute to the by road and ring values. In Tolkien's translation of repeated theme of "arousing" or energizing the elderly, , the departing King proclaims: "I here do which correlates the fortunes of Gandalf, Saruman, Old name/my steward high before you all/to keep my realm, Man Willow, Théoden, and Denethor, besides Tom and Tree- whate're befall." And after Orfeo and his Queen finally beard. Tolkien may even be teasing us into comparing die, the long faithful steward inherits the care of the the two since both bear the same initials. realm: "and king was the steward in their stead." 30 This doctrine of a serial hierarchy of stewards, or Tom Bombadil functions as a kind of Nature god, "Guardians," or shepherds like the Ents pervades Tol­ or benevolent Pan.29 if among its other properties, kien's work and presumably is a legacy of his Catholic the Ring implies the burden of self-consciousness by and Medieval heritage. Thus, the Valar, , early promising the unique, self-indulgent wish-fulfillments Nûmenóreans, later Rangers, the House of Stewards, and of each wearer, Tom remains visibly unaffected by the Healing King are all stewards, as is each individual Ring (I,184) because he is really preconscious. Thus creature whose road mission must preserve the values his natural counsel to Frodo is "Take off your golden of the past besides guarding lest that very past para­ ring! Your hand's more fair without it" (I,185). But lyze the present and thereby prevent the natural un­ one cannot consciously discard self-consciousness, and folding of the future. As Frodo explains this repeated consequently Tom's natural innocence is most unnatural adventure of self-sacrifice to his successor, Sam: "I for postconscious beings like hobbits and humans. He tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but continues: "Tom must teach the right road, and keep not fo r me. I t must o fte n be so , Sam, when th in g s a re your feet from wandering" (I,185), yet Tom himself can­ in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so not adventure outside his own circumscribed kingdom, that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all which seems to be shrinking and to be rooted, anach­ that I had and might have I leave to you" (III,382). ronistically, in past Ages: "Out east my knowledge Bad stewards, however, self-enclosed by ring-hoarding, fails. Tom is no master of Riders from the Black Land desire to get rather than give. In Unfinished Tales, far beyond this country." In the words of his poem, for example, Gwindor tells the tragic overreacher Turin "Tom's country ends here: he will not pass the borders" that "You think of yourself and of your own glory, and (I,203). Consequently, Gandalf reveals at the Council bid us each do likewise; but we must think of others of Elrond that Tom "is withdrawn into a little land, beside ourselves, for not all can fight and fall, and within bounds that he has set . . . and he will not those we must keep from war and ruin, while we can" step beyond them" And then Galdor reaffirms that the (UT,p.l56). Similarly, the fall of the Numenoreans "Power to defy out Enemy is not in him, unless such occurs when, unlike the Ents, "they appear now rather power is in the earth itself" (I,348). We have al­ as lords and masters and gatherers of tribute than as ready heard Gandalf bless Tom as a "moss-gatherer," and helpers and teachers" ( S,p.329). Subsequently, the even his refrain of "Ring a ding dillo!" (I,179) her­ House of Stewards rules in their stead until the end alds the environment of this curious creature as a of the Third Age, when Denethor's lust for the Ring restful haven of healing, but he is certainly no road- deems he must lose his stewardship to Gandalf tempo­ tested knight errant. rarily and then ultimately to the crowned Aragorn. As Gandalf charges Denethor: "the rule of no realm is mine, Treebeard is a different story. His eyes, much neither of nor any other, great or small. But like Galadriel's, reflect his dedication to both the all worthy things that are in peril as the world now memory o f th e p a s t and s e rv ic e to th e p re s e n t: "One stands, those are in my care. And for my part, I felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should filled up with ages of memory, and long, slow, steady perish, if anything passes through this night that thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the can still grow fair or bear bruit and flower again in MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 page 11 the days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you as t a l e s .... But the people in them come, and go not know?" (III,33-34). But the steward who best when their part's ended. Our part will end later-- resolves Road and Ring geometry is Aragorn the Strider or sooner." Sam concludes, anticipating the cyclic who also has compensatory "deep roots" (I,231): "it return to ring stability and security in their "holes" is a thing passing strange . . . that the healing hand back home: "And then we can have some r e s t and some should also wield the sword" (III,291). Indeed, Strider sleep." Here the identifying reader is urged to an is like the steward Rider in "," identical act of extrapolation, discovering that he or who similarly "was a great traveller: he had seen many she, too, is recalling the tale of The Lord of the things and could do many things before he settled Rings, which is itself but a prologue or prelude to down."31 Thus, for Gandalf Aragorn's stewardship her­ the reader's own adventure, or tale of life. As alds a new heaven and a new Middle-earth: "This is Roger Sale describes reader participation in Tolkien, your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that "We are in a story, but we have . . . no storyteller, shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and only ourselves."35 Consequently, for Tolkien the Pri­ the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its mary World of the reader and the Secondary World of the beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For fantastic tale are one indivisible Middle-earth. Both though much has been saved, much must now pass away; hobbits and humans must be heroic stewards over this and the power of the also is ended" (III, supreme gift, which is the legacy of life itself. In 307-08). Gerald Monsman's words, "fantasy may become one with reality in a redeemed world."36 Elrond, Galadriel, and Círdan are willing to give up their percious "gift" of each of the Three Rings, and In "The Golden Key" by George MacDonald, one by extnesion Middle-earth itself, and take the "Straight of Tolkien's favorite tale-tellers, Tangle's road Road" to Valinor in order to preserve the cycle of quest takes her to the cave of the Old Man of the Fire, natural change. Their ability to give up a gift freely who appears as "a little naked child. . . . playing is the highest act of individual stewardship. In Tol­ with balls of various colors and sizes, which he dis­ kien's Catholic Mass, one seasonal "Prayer over the posed in strange figures upon the floor beside him." Gifts" significantly reads: Tangle feels "there must be an infinite meaning in the change and sequence and individual forms of the figures." Lord, She knows, m oreover, th a t th e se a re somehow r e la te d to receive our gifts in this wonderful exchange: the goal of her quest, and "flashes of-meaning would from all you have given us now pass from them. . . . and the longer she looked the we bring you these gifts, more an indescribable vague intelligence went on rousing and in return, you give us yourself.32 itself in her mind."37 The effect here is much like that of the "mystery of shapes" which teased Wordsworth This kind of "wonderful exchange" is parodied, how­ at Stonehenge and also like that of Tolkien's own solid ever, by the self-serving Sauron who idolotrously names geometry. It may be debatable whether roads and rings himself "Annatar, the Lord of Gifts" (S,355); and Nu- provide the golden key to understanding Tolkien's tale, menor, "the Land of Gift" (UT,p.l65), is deluged by but they certainly provide significant landmarks along "encircling seas" as soon as its people fall to ring­ the way, "flashes of meaning" even more reliable than hoarding. But in "Smith of Wootton Major," the true MacDonald's "indescribable vague intelligence." Apoc­ gospel of gift-giving is wonderfully summed by Alf, alyptically, they even provide a telltale clue to the the Fairy King, when he explains to his vicar, Star- final whereabouts of the missing Ent-wives, whom Tree- brow, why he must give up his gift of the fairy star: beards (and the reader) desperately seeks and whose "[Some things] are free gifts and given for remembrance. rambling path crisscrosses that of the Ents in a con­ But others are not so given. They cannot belong to a flicting alteration of road and ring patterns.(II,99- man for ever, nor be treasured as heirlooms. They are 100). Their poignant tale or legend ultimately looks lent. You have not thought, perhaps, that someone else forward to the day when "Together we will take the road may need this thing. But it is so. Time is pressing'.'33 that leads into the West./And far away will find a land For, Tolkien would add, are we not all stewards? where both our hearts may rest"(II,102). Undoubtedly, the Shire is port of entry to that Western haven. For Indeed, he makes his readers' stewardship of the the very beginning of the trilogy whispers an unnoticed gift of fantasy abundantly clear throughout his works; promise that this desired union will occur only after and this notion of "shared enrichment, partners in the road has circled there and back again to the Shire. making" is perhaps Tolkien's most joyful celebration As that true believer Sam innocently reports, a giant, of fused Road and Ring values. In "," like a tree, or even "bigger than a tree was seen away for instance, little Niggle contemplates his magically beyond the North Moors" (I ,73). Thus, Tolkien's reader realized painting this way: "'It is a gift!' he said. will indeed continue to "walk in legends" (II,45), like He was referring to his art, and also to the result; his characters, long after the books themselves are f i­ but he was using the word quite literally."34 That nally closed. For the Straight Road to the Circle of is, his vision is a gift which the artist can only pass Valinor stretches ever on, somewhere between memory and on to each successive reader and generation of readers, desire in the reader's heart. Frodo's final Road Song who then must reciprocally share that gift with others. is a paean celebrating the paradox of this geometric As Sam and Frodo discover during their wonderful excur­ : sus on fantasy (II,407-09), the gift of "adventures" is almost unavoidable in life: "Folk seem to have been Still round the corner there may wait just landed in them, usually--their paths were laid A new road or a secret gate; that way." As a matter of fact, or of fantasy, Sam And thought I oft have passed them by, believes he and Frodo have landed in a subsequent epi­ A day w ill come a t la s t when I sode or stage of Beren One-Hand's legendary adventure Shall take the hidden paths that run with the : "Why, to think of it, we're in the West of th e Moon, E ast of t h e Sun ( I I I ,3 8 1 ). same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales ever end?" And Frodo's reply reveals his understanding of stewardship and the relation between the individual pattern and the Universal Pattern: "No, they never end page 12 MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982

Notes see Nitzsche, Tolkien's Art: A 'Mythology for England' (New York: St. M artin's Press, 1979). 1William Wordsworth, The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850, eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M.H. Abrams, and 12For an insightful Jungian discussion of Tolkien's Stephen Gill (New York and London: Norton C ritical dialectical temper, see Timothy R. O'Neill, The Indi­ Edition, 1979), p.454. viduated Hobbit: Jung, Tolkien and the Archetypes of Middle-earth (Boston: Houghton M ifflin, 1979). 2Aubrey Burl, The Stone Circles of The British Isles (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1976), 13"The Quest Hero," in Tolkien and the C ritics, p . 23. Burl is th e most w ell known a u th o rity on th e eds. Neil D. Isa a c s and Rose A. Zimbardo (N otre Dame, enigmatic stone circles, and much of his archaeological Indiana: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1968), p.45. The research is surprisingly relevant to the topography essay first appeared in The Texas Quarterly, 4(1962), of Middle-earth. 81-93.

3All citations to LotR are taken from the 14In Carpenter, p. 105. Ballantine editions of The Fellowship of the Ring (Vol. I), The Two Towers (Vol. II), and The Return of 15For a relevant treatment of the quadratic circuli, the King (Vol. III) (New York, 1965) and are indicated see Aniela Jaffe's "Symbolism in the Visual Arts," in by volume and page number in the text. References to Man and His Symbols, ed. Carl G. Jung (Garden City, The Hobbit are from (New York: , 1965) New York: Doubleday, 1964), esp. pp. 240-48. and are identified as H_ in the text. References to The Silm arillion are from (New York: Ballantine Books, 16The Road Goes Ever On, music by Donald Swan 1979) and are identified as S in the text. References (New York: Ballantine Books, 1969), pp. 51-52. to Unfinished Tales are from (Boston: Houghton M ifflin, 1980) and are identified as UT in the text. References 17Three insightful discussions of the trilogy's to Tolkien's essay, "On Fairy Stories" are from The plot structure are , Tolkien's World Tolkien Reader (New York: Ballantine Books, 1966) and (Boston: Houghton M ifflin, 1974), pp. 82-108, Richard identified as "FS" in the text. References to Tolkien's West, "The Interlace Structure of The Lord of the Rings," essay on Beowulf, "Beowulf: The Monster and The C ritics," in A Tolkien Compass, ed. (La Salle, are from An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism , ed. Lewis Illinois: Opne Court, 1975), pp. 77-94, and David Miller E. Nicholson (Notre Dame, Indiana: Univ. of Notre Dame "Narrative Pattern in The Fellowship of the Ring," in Press, 1963), and are identified in the text as "BMC." A Tolkien Compass, pp. 96-106. The essay first appeared in Proceedings of the British Academy, 32(1936), 245-95. 18The Sacred and the Profane, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), p. 184. This 4For various accounts of Tolkien's place in pop­ passage is also cited by William Dowie, "The Gospel of ular culture, see , Tolkien: A Look Behind Middle Earth according to J.R.R. Tolkien," in J.R.R. "The Lord of The Rings" (New York: Ballantine Books, Tolkien, Scholar and Story-teller: Essays in Memoriam, 1969), pp. 1-6; Bruce A. Beatie, "The Tolkien Phenom­ ed. Mary Salu and Robert T. Farrell (Ithaca and London: enon," Journal of Popular Culture,3(1970), 689-703; Cornell Univ. Press, 1979), p. 270. Gerard O'Connor, "Why Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings Should Not Be Popular Culture," Extrapolation, 13(1971), 19See Plate 20, "The Hall at Bag-End, Residence 48-55; in response is Colman O'Hare, "On Reading of an of B. Baggins Esquire," in Pictures By J.R.R. Tolkien 'Old Book,"' Extrapolation, 14(1972), 59-63; and the for a graphic illustration of Tolkien's circular geom­ classic attack on the trilogy as popular "juvenile trash" etry as it defines a hobbit hole. is Edmund Wilson, "Oo, Those Awful Ores!" The Nation, 182(1956), 312-14. 20Georgs H. Thompson has computed Frodo's mileage. See "The Lord of the Rings: The Novel as Traditional 5Quoted in , Tolkien: A Biog­ Romance," Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, raphy (New York: Ballantine Books, 1977), 229. 8 (1967), 57.

6Pictures By J.R.R. Tolkien, Forward and Notes 21Miller, 95. Later Miller suggestively muses by (Boston: Houghton M ifflin, 1979), that "a great deal might be learned by examining the note to Plate 43; see plates 43-47 for examples of contrapuntal structure of the spirals of movement east these "patterns." and west of the river" Anduin, 100. Neither his study nor the present one, however, chooses to examine the 7For discussions of the impact of Coleridge on logistics of Tolkien's mapped journey that closely. Tolkien, see Jan Wojik, S.J., "Tolkien and Coleride: Remaking of the 'Green Earth,'" Renascence 20(1968), 22For a general discussion of this curve as a 134-39, 146; and Clyde S. Kilby, "Tolkien and Coleridge controlling matrix in fantasy, see Mark M. Hennelly, O rcrist, 3(1969), 16-19. Jr., "The Dream of Fantasy: 'There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Holiday,"' The Sphinx, III (1979), 29-43. 8Carpenter, p.103. 23Many critics, in passing, have noted tolkien's 9"Hwaet We Holbytla . . . ," Hudson Review, reliance on general wasteland imagery, but none have (1956-57), 599. worked out this mythology in any detail. See, for example, Auden's essay, and Hugh T. Keenan, "The Appeal "Introduction" to The Left Hand of Darkness of The Lord of the Rings: A Struggle For Life," and 10(New York: Ace Books, 1976), p.iv. Charles Moorman, "The Shire, Mordor, and Minas T irith," both of which appear in Tolkien and C ritics, pp. 62-80, For a discussion of the centrality of this to esp. p. 72, and pp. 201-17, esp. p. 216, respectively. 11Tolkien's thought and how it reveals the conflict be­ See also Ruth S. Noel The Mythology of Middle Earth tween Tolkien the critic and Tolkien the fantasist, (Boston: Houghton M ifflin, 1977), passim, and Anne C. MYTHLORE 33: Autumn 1982 page 13

Petty, One Ring To Bind Them All: Tolkien's Mythology See Francis: The Journey and the Dream (n.p.: St. (University, Alabama: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1979), Anthony Messenger Press, 1972), pp. 167-68. esp. p. 62, and p. 100 where Petty notes the relevant significance of circles for the old Sioux medicine man, 37In Phantasmagoria: Tales of Fantasy and the Black Elk. Finally, for a complete discussion of Supernatural, ed. Jane Mobley (Garden City, New Aragorn's significance, see Paul H. Kocher, Master York: Anchor Books, 1977), p. 76. of Middle Earth: The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien (New York: Ballantine Books, 1977), pp. 121-151.

24For a valuable discussion of Tolkien's concept of joy and other fantasy themes, see Robert J. Reily, Editorial Notes "Tolkien and the Fairy Story," in Tolkien and the In this issue we observe two anniversaries: the Critics, pp. 128-150, esp. 147-150. This essay orig­ 15th of the founding of The Myt.hopoeic Society, and Ihe inally appeared in Thought, 38 (1963), 89-106. 150th of the birth of Lewis Carroll. To mark the old­ est, Joe R. Christopher and Ruth Berman have written 25In , p. 105. articles on Carroll, a man who continues to be specially appreciated as a pioneer in literature and fantasy. 26For other discussions of the freedom-fate dia­ lectic in Tolkien, see Gunnar Urang, Shadows of Heaven: Also with this issue, Mythlore has reached that Religion and Fantasy in the Writings of C.S. Lewis, special number to Hobbits — 33. This is a time to Charles Williams, and J.R.R, Tolkien (Philadelphia: A briefly pause and evaluate its "adolescence" and look Pilgrim Press Book, 1971), pp. 157 ff., and W illis B. forward to what lies ahead. The prospects are good. Glover, "The Christian Character of Tolkien's World," In the last year its circulation has increased almost 20% C r itic is m , 13 (1971), 39-53. We are not yet to where we want and can be, but the recent growth has not been accidental. Many factors 27In Tolkien: , Smith of Wootton have made this possible, not the least has been the M ajor, The Homecoming of B eorhtnoth (London: Unwin reader's support in renewals and passing the word. Paperbacks), pp. 158-59. We have changed with this issue to a more satisfactory printer, and hope in the near future to increase the 28For a more general and complete discussion of number of pages. Further on, dependent on further the hand imagery, see Marion Perret, "Rings Off Their growth, we hope to see typesetting and the use of color. Fingers: Hands in The Lord of the Rings," A riel: A This will only be possible with your individual effort Review of International Enqlish Literature, 6 (1975) to let those know who would be quite interested if they 52-66. but knew of Mythlore's existence. This includes both individuals and libraries. In the last issue a poll was 29For other discussions of Tom Bombadil, see enclosed as to how you both now see Mythlore and would O'Neill, pp. 120ff., and Gordon E. Slethaug, "Tolkien like it to be. On a spectrum of "fan publication" at 1 Tom Bombadil, and the Creative Imagination," English and "serious journal" at 9, the responses average Studies in Canada, 4 (1977), 341-50. out to 6.52 as to how the readers see Mythlore now, and 7.59 as to what they would like it to be. Tf Mythlore 30Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir is to increase its outreach it must attempt to please as Orfeo, trans. J.R.R. Tolkien, intro. Christopher Tolkien best it can both its current and potential readers. As (New York: Ballantine Books, 1980), 11 . 204-06, 596, has been said before, it is not possible to please every­ pp. 138, 148. one in all respects, despite our efforts. I personally see Mythlore as a journal with a human personality, 31In Tolkien: Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wootton intended to serve those who share a deep and abiding M ajor, The Homecoming of B eorhtnotlg, p. 135. enthusiasm for the journal's interests. To put it an­ other way, Mythlore is for the "literate fan" (a term 32Celebrating the Eucharist, Advent-Christmas I did not originate). It is possible to be an enthusiast Season: November 30 to January 30, 1980-81 (Collegeville, with critical standards, as the readership of Mythlore Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1980), p. 94. clearly demonstrates. I usually avoid terms such as "fan," "fannish," vs. "serious," "literate," and "scholar­ 33In Tolkien: Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wootton ly," because they belong to somewhat dangerous terri­ M ajor, The Homecoming of B e o rh tn o th , p. 134. tory, and are slippery terms to deal with. They do not mean the same thing to everyone, and a great deal of 34In The Tolkien Reader, p. 104. fuss and bother can be created when they are used. I personally feel much of this results from semantic dis­ agreement and misunderstanding of what others may 35Modern Heroism: Essays on D.H. Lawrence, William mean when these terms are employed. Although these Empson, and J.R.R. Tolkien (Berkeley: Univ of California terms are mistakenly mutually exclusive to some, and Press, 1973), p. 235. are made demonstrably so in some quarters, I believe in the context of Mythlore one can find a common 36"The Imaginative World of J.R.R. Tolkien," ground for both which is mutually enriching. South Atlantic Quarterly,69 (1970), 275. See also Barton R. Friedman's approach to the relationships Some have written asking why we don't publish more between history and fantasy or myth, "Fabricating on a certain area or author(s). The honest answer is History: Narrative Strategy in The Lord of the Rings," that we have received no submissions on that area or Clio, 2 (1973), 123-144. Finally, the interested author at this point. As C.S. Lewis said in effect about reader should also consult an untitled poem of Murray some of his books, he wrote them because he wanted to Bodo, O.F.M. which rather remarkably approaches the read them, and no one else had yet written them. In general dialectic between internal and external reality this light, perhaps some readers will want to write on using the symbols of the "road" and "wheel" to stand that which they would like to see in Mythlore. See page for the "Journey and the Dream." Thus, finally, "The 13 of Mythlore 30 for some topics in which others have Journey and the Dream/Are one balanced act of love." expressed interest. Continued on page 47